Lupu/Nagħġa: Kick-Starting a Process by Simone Spiteri

There was a point, almost a year ago, when this play was a wall of sticky-notes in my living room and a very stressed writer staring at it for hours on end. As part of the Pipelines Project commissioned by the European Theatre Convention, I am one of 5 European playwrights writing about the same theme from different angles. And having my other colleagues a message away often helped not just to keep the momentum and stamina – when at times there was none – going but also to find some sort of comfort in the knowledge that I wasn’t the only one grappling so intensely with such a complicated task.

I’ve never written a 12-actor strong play. Nor have I ever written one where, purposely, none of those characters have names. All, bar one, form part of a chorus system that tries extremely hard to contrast its Greek counterpart and meddles, bosses around and interferes in the action as many times as it can. But identities are unimportant in this play- and this is because it is one of the central pivots the story orbits. We are just numbers, right? How many times have we heard or said that? Just a number. Conveniently insignificant when it serves us but collectively impactful regardless. So what difference does it make?

As it turns out, a lot.

And, no doubt, it will be the central point of discussion in our rehearsals. 

Casting the play was also a mammoth task. Not for lack of talented people who turned up for the auditions or people we approached. But the process of casting, in my view at least, is akin to a delicate chemical recipe which would implode with one wrong component or correct measure. A lot of people think that casting is merely finding a talented actor who fits an age range required by a role. And while that is, of course, a very crucial thing, the real challenge is balancing group dynamism, physicality, stage energy, actor-to-actor chemistry … and, of course, the bane of our modern lives: time-availability. 

But, we are here, with an amazing cast, an awesome creative and technical team and it’s all starting to feel a little like those few seconds behind the starting line of a race you’ve waited for for a long time. You’re nervous, excited, can’t be still in your body and just want that starting shot to pierce the air so that we can start running.

It will be a sprint, a marathon, a jog … a couple of limp and harsh stumbles too, no doubt. And we shall certainly not be running orthodoxly from point A to B. Probably more of a Pollock-style itinerary which exciting production processes tend to look like. But we do hope to see you in the audience when, together, we all cross that finish line and share with you what is promising to be an intense, exciting, thought-provoking, somewhat satirical and rather hard-hitting piece of work.

That’s always my hope, at least.

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Photo by Du’ Theatre